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ND VOLLEYBALL: Irish travel back to Texas

Tom Dorwart | Friday, September 16, 2005

After a few days of being unsure of their weekend plans, the No. 8 Irish (6-0) have headed to Texas – again.

Notre Dame will play Tulane (1-0) at 2 p.m. today and LSU (8-1) at 11 a.m. Sunday in the Sugar Bowl Classic, which was originally slated to take place in New Orleans but has been moved to the campus of Texas A&M.

The Tigers are off to one of the best starts in school history – in fact, their best since 1991. Currently No. 33 in the American Volleyball Coaches’ Association rankings, the Tigers are receiving votes for the first time in head coach Fran Flory’s eight-year career. Their lone loss came to then-No. 13 Texas A&M 28-30, 30-17, 30-28, 29-31, 15-13.

Tulane has played only one match this season. Since the Green Wave’s Aug. 26 season-opener against Nicholls State – which they won 3-0 – they have had six matches cancelled because of Hurricane Katrina’s destruction to their campus and consequent relocation. A newfound pride will likely carry the Wave in their first match in three weeks.

Notre Dame knows it’s in for two dogfights this weekend, but a visit to Texas did wonders for the Irish last week.

Now, they can only hope to have the same kind of experience.

Last weekend Notre Dame swept through the University of Texas San Antonio’s Dome Rally at the Alamodome, beating two top-10 teams in Southern California and Florida as well as Oklahoma.

“The thing that was really good to see on numerous occasions was that there were times when it was pretty easy for the team to fall apart,” coach Debbie Brown said. “But we didn’t; we remained competitive and composed.”

The Irish lost the first Friday game to the Trojans, but fought back to win the next three. That comeback just might be the epitome of the Notre Dame season thus far Brown said.

“The second game [against USC] was huge,” she said. “For us to come back and win that one maybe set the tone for the rest of the weekend. That was pretty exciting.”

This weekend the Irish travel to College Station to face a hot Tiger squad and a fired-up Green Wave. The Irish are just glad to be playing rather than having to wait until Sept. 25 to play Big East foe Seton Hall.

And, while at the time Brown said the USC match might have set the tone for last weekend, it just might have set the tone for the entire season.

Today, her team will find out.